Ancient Churches in Anglesey
Churches on the Island of Anglesey in North Wales.
I am in the process of writing a brand new website with places of worship from throughout the whole of the UK, indeed the rest of the world. Naturally, as I live here, I have started with the places of worship on Anglesey. These are very high resolution photographs of Anglesey’s churches, see the links to each individual church here – without a doubt the most complete record of churches on the internet.
The flag of St David flies alongside the flag of Wales above. There are 74 parishes on the island of Anglesey. The churches herein are as different as they are beautiful. Some because of their simplicity, others because of their relative grandeur. Most are of Norman design, as witnessed by their square towers, whilst just four of Anglesey’s churches have spires, and five a clock tower. It is probably true to say that most of our churches would have been built on the same ground as earlier Celtic holy missions dating from roughly the 6th century.
During the 1840`s, many of the churches were rebuilt on the same site, using where possible the original materials, or where deemed necessary a brand new church was built nearby. Finding the ruins of the original church can be a fascinating and even mystical task. A prime example of this is the church at Llanfihangel Ysceifiog (Pentre Berw). For those non welsh speakers, Llanfihangel = The church and religious enclosure of St Michaels. Llan is a little different – I believe – from the welsh for church, which is eglwys. The word Llan is not only the church, but includes the religious enclosure in which it is stood.
It is a mystery to some that many Anglesey churches seem to be situated in the middle of nowhere. For example, several seem isolated, or for example in the middle of a lonely field. The reason is that in mediaeval times the landscape would have been quite different, but suffice to say the church would invariably have been at the centre of the settlements of the time. Sadly, too many churches are now disused, and in a state of disrepair.
There is one organisation that is trying to do something about at least some of them. Friends of Friendless churches is their name.
The church of Llanfihangel Ysceifiog below (and above) illustrates the change in the 1840`s from the old church to a new church in a slightly relocated location.
The original church of Llanfihangel Ysceifiog – hidden from the view of anyone passing even closely by – is at least as fascinating as the new church, but by the time that the new church was built, the village had spread out somewhat, and the new location was nearer to the centre of the population at that time.
I was made very welcome in the new church one Sunday in May 2008, by the Rector, members of the congregation, and the church wardens. I was graciously shown around, and photographed various items of interest from the original church. I was told that with the aid of CADW there may be some restoration work undertaken to the old church, in fact it was already intended to hold a service at the old church in the not too distant future.
One could live on Anglesey without ever knowing of the existence of these abandoned churches. Family historians might have some problem finding graves if they for example were only looking for graves of their families at the new churches!! The list below is pretty complete, in fact it is probably the most complete pictorial record of Anglesey churches to be found anywhere. I do hope you enjoy them, they represent almost two years of my time in finding and photographing them, time that I have thoroughly enjoyed.